Giorgi Shengelaia – In the Constant Process of Pursuit
Giorgi Shengelaia – In the Constant Process of Pursuit
Festival in Media
2018-10-09

This year, 19th Tbilisi International Film Festival will grant the "Prometheus of Honor" for special contribution to the cinema to filmmaker Giorgi Shengelaia and will screen his first film "Alaverdoba".

Giorgi Shengelaia is an outstanding figure of 60s' Georgian cinema. If we look through his work, the diversity of genres can even confuse the audience, because Shengelaia always tried to experience himself in new genres and broaden the frontiers of popular genres in Georgian cinema.

In 1959 he graduated from All-Russian State University of Cinematography's faculty of film directing, school of Alexander Dovzhenko and soon, started working in film studio "Georgian Film". He made his first film 4 years after the graduation and his filmography includes 12 feature film.

His first work was "Alavedroba" (1962) a feature-documentary film. A film-rebelion based on the same title novel by Guram Rcheulishvili, where a young hero stands against the distorted traditions. It was followed by "Matsi Khvitia" based on folk motives, which can be named as the first ever Georgian western.

Absolutely different kind of atmosphere can be found in his next Biography picture "Pirosmani" (1969). It was symbolic that he invited a self-taught artist Avto Varazi for the role of Nikala. Watching "Pirosmani", the feeling of traveling in his paintings never leaves you as the environment, art and the performance of Avto Varazi perfectly describes the image of one of the outstanding and authentic Artist of the XX century. "The film is full of amazing shots, which are created according to Pirosmani's compositions. There is a scene, where three peasants' women are sitting like they are ready for photoshoot. They are looking forward. Two of them, sitting at the edges have their hands on their knees, the one in the middle has her hands on her lap. Artist Avto Varazi was one of the art directors of the film. Blue and brown shadows dominate the film. Compositions are made with simple contours on the background of white walls. A camera, which is almost immobile between the cadres, gives the film a placidity and meaningfulness. We are the witnesses of the details perceived with artist's eyes and ears. Women are sewing, the door is creaking, a woman appears at the entrance of the barrelhouse. Her silhouette shows up at the incoming daylight." - wrote "The New Yorker" reporter Penelope Gilliatt in 1978.
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A simplicity and some kind of "silence" of expression was followed by a lively, joyful musical full of humor and music - "Veris Ubnis Melodiebi" (Melodies of the Vera Quarter). This new genre born on the stage of Broadway transferred on the screens with the intervention of sound in cinema. Giorgi Shengelaia managed to fix this purely American genre to the Georgian reality. "Melodies Of Vera Quarter" is the first Georgian film-musical where the director mixed the elements of melodrama and comedy with the social-political issues and made a spectacular show with magnificent music of Giorgi Tsabadze.

Although, the film that followed "Sikvaruli Kvelas Unda" (Everyone Needs Love), was planned in the same genre, the events taking place in Kakheti was more like a parody or caricature. A story of a young dressmaker who goes to a village of Kakheti to make a specialized clothes for the dwellers, became one the Giorgi Shengelaia's most beloved movies of the mass audience.

Joyful music and comedy characters are no longer present in his next film, a historic drama "Voyage of the Young Composer" (1984). The main character of softly stylized film full of sub-texts, goes to some regions of Georgia after the fall of the revolution to collect folk songs. Despite him being warned several times, he goes deeper into the adventure with childish naivety (starring Levan Abashidze). "The film becomes a fable about fear and virtue; choice and its value, true and fake heroism; a fable which is close and clear for every period of time and every people. The history of every country keeps the ages when a common sense becomes the victim of exaltation. A real affair fails because of pathetic speech and effective pose. Fake heroes show up and a bright mind, intelligence, virtue and morality becomes unnecessary, even dangerous. The proof is the nomination at "Golden Bear" and deserved Silver Bear for the best director." - wrote a film critic Manana Lekborashvili in her letter "Giorgi Shengelaia - at the path of constant experiments."

"Voyage of the Young Composer" was followed by history-adventure movie "Khareba and Gogia" (1978) which tells the story of fightrts left in certain regions and their battles. And "Sikvaruli Venakhshi" (Georgian Grapes) made in 2000 is the first Georgian erotic movie. In 2005, Giorgi Shengelaia made a comedy "Midioda Matarebeli" (The Train Went On and On), where the heroes gathered in one train, their stories and characters, make some kind of a micro world.

"The richness of image equals the trust of the audience. Giorgi Shengelaia never loses this trust. It's hard to find an artist in the history of Georgian cinema to love the experiment and working in different genres and styles more than he does. We may say that it's a rebellion against one's self - he's never satisfied by the result achieved. That's why he's at the same time a symbol of his generation and a "forever young" artist who appreciates the relation with a new generation." - wrote Gogi Gvakharia in his letter published on "Radio Liberty".

Among the prizes Giorgi Shengelaia's films got different times, there are: "Silver Bear" at Berlin International Film Festival for the Best Director in "Voyage of the Young Composer", British Film Institute Award and Chicago International Film Festival award for "Pirosmani" and OCIC Award - Honorable Mention at San Sebastián International Film Festival for "Melodies Of Vera Quarter".


Filmography:

"Alaverdoba" (1962)
"Jildo"(Award) (1965)
"Matsi Khvitia" (1973)
"Pirosmani" (1969)
"Veris Ubnis Melodiebi" (Melodies Of Vera Quarter) (1973)
"Kvishani Darchebian" (Our Daily Water) (1976)
"Sikvaruli Kvelas Unda" (Everybody Needs Love) (1980)
"Voyage of the Young Composer" (1984)
"Khareba and Gogia" (1987)
"Orpheosis Sikvdili" (Death of Orfeus) (1996)
"Sikvaruli Venakhshi" (Georgian Grapes) (2000)
"Midioda Matarebeli" (The Train Went On and On) (2005)

 

 

 

 

 

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